So I thought I'd tell you a bit about the characters here.
Tal is a human soldier from the country of Renshire. She's the fourth of seven children, the second of two girls in the family, born to a reasonably well-off farming couple. During her childhood, it was evident that she was stronger and tougher than most of her siblings, her two oldest brothers excepted due to their age. Her parents turned a blind eye to this, expecting her to become a dowager wife like her older sister.
Tal ended up being saved from an arranged marriage by her siblings. Her brothers, who considered Tal to have far too much potential to be married off (even to the nice, quiet young man her parents had selected) and helped her plan a way to escape. Her oldest (and favorite) brother, Toran, contacted an old army veteran and convinced him to take in Tal as an apprentice in the art of combat. Her brothers then set up a diversion (quite easy for a group of six boys) that allowed Tal to sneak out to the veteran's home and sign the oath of apprenticeship he had prepared.
Renshire law dictates that once an individual becomes an apprentice, they are legally treated as an adult and given rights of citizenship, rendering void any contracts or agreements made by other parties regarding said individual. tl;dr: She said 'screw it' to an arranged marriage.
Despite this conflict, Tal still loves her parents, and hopes to prove to them that she made the right choice in taking control of her life. As there are no active wars in Ailev during this time, she ends up becoming an adventurer to make ends meet.
Menna is an elvan magician/shaman originally born in one of the fortified cities of Shrith. Her childhood, like that of most elvan children, was extremely rough; beatings were a regular occurance, and the time inbetween those was filled with brawling with her siblings and other elvan children of the same age. She accompanyed her mother (a merchant) on a trip to Mecha at the age of 13. It was there she first observed an xalvian street magician using cantrips to amuse children in the street; the possibility of a skill that could distract her peers from fighting took a powerful hold in her mind. Slipping away from her mother, she made her way to the magician and bluntly demanded to be taught the "light-tricks." Amused by her bruesqueness, the magician took the girl under his wing, assuming she was one of the (depressingly) many orphans living on the street in the city.
Roughly one month later, Menna's mother successfully tracked her down, and the ensuing arguement shattered 17 windows and caused the Archdean of the Magicians University to lose his hearing in his left ear. Roughly two hours after sound-dampening spells were applied, Menna's mother grumpily left, leaving this note for her teacher "I'm f***ing ashamed to leave a weakling like you to whip my whelp of a daughter into shape, but it can't be helped, dammit." Menna finished her apprenticeship four years later, but instead of enrolling at the university's Graduate course, she decided to take a trip around Ailev and experience the continent on her own. During these travels, she discovered she had a talent with nature and animals (undiscovered in Shrith due to a lack of plant life and non-predatory animals.) and began to explore the path of the shaman cautiously.
Menna ended up becoming an adventurer because she was too rude, abrasive, young, and stubborn to find work as an entertainer or spirit talker (village wisewoman.) She's in it entirely for herself- her family has cast her out of elvan society, the magicians are relieved she finally left, and there's no one out there who really cares if she lives or dies at the moment.